Since it’s Halloween, I have a scary story for you.
Adolf Hitler once said: When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.”
This is great. I’ve never gotten to start a blog post with a Hitler quote, and nothing says fun or over-the-top like a good Hitler quote.
Until now, I didn’t have an appropriately frightening subject, but now I do. No, it’s not the school librarian who allegedly took shushing to a whole new level by choking a student. That’s right, an elementary school library is getting rid of its Dewey Classification system.
Instead of replacing it with the LC system to prepare the little kiddies for college, they’ve replaced it with a bookstore organization model, to prepare the little kiddies to shop in bookstores that probably won’t exist anymore by the time they’re grown up.
It’s one thing when public libraries replace a precise classification scheme for a bookstore model, because public libraries are there to provide infotainment, not precise research collections. Besides, public libraries have long organized fiction and biographies into separate sections having nothing to do with Dewey. Public libraries are designed for the casual browser.
But school libraries? Aren’t these the libraries that are supposed to be preparing our children to do library research in high school and college? Information literacy and all that?
If school libraries abandon classification schemes for bookstore models, there goes that hope. By they time these kids get to college – if they’ll even be able to afford college – they’ll be so used to just rambling among disorganized books that they won’t know what to do in the library.
Maybe they’ll protest that instead of having books arranged so they can be easily identified and found, their college library should just arrange them in a “user friendly” manner like bookstores and their old school libraries.
That could work. Libraries could have sections of 50 to 100,000 books on “general history.”
That’s where the pirate books ended up: “Each category requires at least 15 titles, but when it came to books on pirates, for example, there weren’t enough. Those books ended up in general history.” Huh?
There’s some irony here. Librarians, traditionally sticklers for organization and control, are abandoning an actual classification scheme that requires books to be organized in controlled ways. But then they’re adhering religiously to an arbitrary rule that says a category requires at least 15 titles?
If you’re not going to be precise and shelve pirates at 910.45, then what difference does it make if there’s a little section labeled “pirates” with 10 books instead of 15?
And if you’re that wedded to the arbitrary roles of a loose organization model, would it kill the library to order a few more books on pirates to get the level to 15 titles so that the kiddies could find them?
I guess in a lot of academic libraries the problem would be different. They’ll have sections of 30,000 books on “World History,” shelved alphabetically by author. What fun it will be!
This is the beginning of the end. The thin end of the wedge. The…never mind, I’m out of cliches.
I guess it’s easier to arrange libraries like bookstores than to spend ten minutes teaching children how to use the DDC. By the time they’re grown, that will be the only library they know.
Remember, first they came for the children.